Set in the far future year of 10, 191, Dune is a very complex movie. It would have to be, since it is based on the novel by Frank Herbert and has a lot of ground to cover.
Life revolves around a substance called Melange or Spice which has extended human life and also mutated some humans to be able to “fold” time and space so that space travel is instantaneous. Spice is only found on one planet, the world known as Arrakis, but generally called Dune. This makes this particular planet a political hotbed. As the saying goes “Whoever controls the Spice, controls the Universe”.
We soon learn there are two main houses involved in a sort of feud; House Atreides and House Harkonnen. Secretly the Emperor of the known universe is backing the Harkonnens. The Harkonnens have held possession of the planet Dune for centuries, but the Emperor (in a very convoluted scheme) has decided to give control to House Atreides. His plan is then to have the Harkonnens attack Atreides and wipe them out. This way, the Emperor’s hands stay clean and he has one less adversary to worry about.
Our hero is the son of House Atreides, Paul (Kyle MachLachlan). His parents are Duke Leto Atreides (Jurgen Prochnow) and his Bene Gesserit consort Lady Jessica (Francesca Annis).
The Bene Gesserits are often called “witches” because of their telepathic powers and their “weirding” voices which can cause any man to do as they please (sort of like the force in “Star Wars”). Lady Jessica is part of this sisterhood, and has been ordered to bear only girl children, but out of love for her Duke, she bore him a son, whom the sisterhood is very interested in. There is a foretelling of a man called the Kwisatz Haderach, who will be able to pass tests that no other man has lived through. This man will bring change and salvation to the universe. The Reverend Mother wonders if Paul might be the one.
There is so much more to the movie, but I don’t want to give it all away. However, be prepared for several plotlines happening at one time. They do all get tied up in the end. If you have read the books, don’t expect it to follow the exact same story line. The book just contained too much to be condensed into one movie. There was a remake of the film into a miniseries in 2000 that followed the books more closely.
The movie did not do well in the theaters when it was first released, but has since gained a cult following among people who enjoy the mysticism and pageantry of the film. It is unique in the way that it follows what the characters are thinking as well as what they say, which does take a little getting used to. You can look as deeply into this film as you want. Either enjoy it as feudal politics that happen to take place in space or delve into the religious themes that are provided along the way.
The special effects are decent for 1984. Getting the giant worms on film was a feat in itself – and they appear quite real. Some of the other effects don’t work so well, though. The blue screen scenes are quite obvious for one. Of course that was a rather new technique back then.
As with most “cult” films, you will either love Dune or hate it, so I recommend renting before you buy.
This film is rated PG-13 for Scifi action and violence.
I purchased this DVD with my own funds